Negative Effects Of Divorce On Children’s Mind And Health  

negative effects of divorce on children

Although there is a widespread belief that marriage is considered to be a sacred union, and lifetime commitment, the divorce rate in the world is growing. In the United States, half of the marriages end in divorce and more than a million children experience their parents’ permanent separation every year. The increasing divorce rate in recent years is becoming a significant social problem. This blog seeks to evaluate the traumatic experience of the children when they see their family disintegrating and sense vulnerability. Divorce, in any case, rips a child apart, both emotionally and psychologically, impacting the children’s wellbeing.[1]

In 1991, Amato and Keith examined the results of 92 studies that included 13,000 children who experienced a divorce. It was concluded that these children were on average less than the children of ‘regular’ families.[2]


Many studies have shown that divorce hurts children lives’ and behaviour.[3] A child gets severely affected by the sudden change in their familial environment. A comfortable environment soon turns into homely when there is an ongoing conflict between the parents.[4]

The quality and quantity of contact between the child and the non-custodial parent (usually the father) gradually decrease, and the relationship between the child and the custodial parent (usually the mother) shows signs of tension. Eventually, the time is given by each parent to the child decreases. The custodial parent has to work had to make ends meet.  In most cases, a child tends to think of what did he do to hype divorce. In the older age group, the assumption of hyper-maturity is also common. Children assume the tasks of the adults to stabilize the custodial parents household. There exists a scenario of mutual dependency between the child and the custodial parent.[5]


Lack of money poses a problem in post-divorce households. About 30% of the children of divorced parents live in poverty.[6] Economic issues are far more catastrophic than the emotional turmoil the child faces. Studies show that only half of all the Court-ordered child support is paid. Child support payments and financial assistance when not paid pose a lot of pressure on the custodial parent. On the other hand, wealth increases access to positive opportunities and decreases the likelihood of negative traumas, such as transportation difficulties, serious illness without adequate medical care.


Step-families often prove out to be very complicated as children find it very difficult to adjusts with the step-parent and extended step-family. Divorce increase the chances of young people leaving their homes due to friction with their parent and increases the chances of premarital cohabitation. This poses a tremendous negative impact on a child’s mental health.

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Divorce creates an emotional turmoil for the entire family, but for the children, it is quite scary confusing and frustrating. Following

  • A worry that if their parents can stop loving each other someday, their parents may stop loving them as well, starts to germinate in the minds of people.
  • Grade school children worry that the divorce is their fault and. They fear the misbehave, or they may assume they did something wrong.
  • Teenagers may become quite angry about the divorce. They blame one parent for the dissolution of marriage.
  • It is believed that, for some children, parental separation isn’t the hardest part. Instead, the accompanying stressors are what make the divorce less tolerable — changing of schools, moving to a new home, living with a single parent, bullying by the schoolmates by asking about the whereabouts of their non-custodial parent. This leads to conflict with peers.
  • Various studies also provide evidence that parental divorce could be related to less success in young adulthood in terms of education, work, and marital relationship. Adults who have experienced divorce in childhood tend to have lower educational and occupational attainment and more employment and economic problems. Children learn how to relate to others by watching their parents relate to each other. Divorce gives them and the unconscious notion of not trusting their mates.[7] Adults who have experienced divorce in childhood have more relationship difficulties. The divorce rate is higher for people whose parents are divorced.


In various cases, despite severe hostilities between the spouses they decide to cohabit together for the sole sake of children. This does not serve as the best option. Children who live in homes with a lot of arguing and hostility and discontentment may be at higher risk for developing mental health issues and behaviour problems.


The following can be the remedies which custodial/non-custodial parent can subscribe to for the betterment of the children.[8]

  • Co-parent peacefully after the divorce. Intense conflict between parents increases the children’s distress.
  • Don’t make kids a subject matter of fight. Asking kids to choose which parent they like more is very distressing. Kinds who find themselves caught in the middle are more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
  • Maintain a healthy relationship with the child.
  • Empower your child. Kids who doubt their ability to deal with the damages are those who see themselves as hapless victims.
  • Monitor your kids closely. When parents pay close attention to the whereabouts of their children, they are less likely to exhibit behaviour problem following divorce. This even helps your child feel safe and secure and reduces the risk of mental health problems.
  • Seek professional help when required. Talk therapy or other resources can do wonders to help adjust to the changes in your family.


As aforementioned, a child is deeply affected through marital disruption. To ensure that the child receives a stable and nurturing environment after the divorce of parents, some scholars have opined that if parents fail to promote the child’s interest at some threshold level of adequacy, a form of intervention ranging from counselling or denying the custody of the child is considered to be legitimate.

[1] Kumar V and Kumar V, “Impact of Divorce on Children” (Academia.edu) <https://www.academia.edu/1870796/Impact_of_Divorce_on_Children> accessed May 9, 2019.

[2] Amato PR and Keith B, “Parental Divorce and the Well-Being of Children: a Meta-Analysis” (Psychological bulletin July 1991) <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1832495> accessed May 9, 2019.

[3] Amato PR, “Children of Divorce in the 1990s: an update of the Amato and Keith (1991) Meta-Analysis” (Journal of family psychology: JFP: journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43)September 2001) <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11584788> accessed May 9, 2019.

[4] Amato PR, “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children” (Journal of Marriage and Family March 2, 2004)<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01269.x?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false> accessed May 9, 2019

[5] Kalter, CHILDREN OF DIVORCE IN AN OUTPATIENT PSYCHIATRIC POPULATION, 47American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 40,48(1977); McDermott, PARENTAL DIVORCE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD,124 American Journal of Psychology 1424, 1424 (1968)

[6] NAESP Staff Report, One-Parent Families and Their Children, 60 Principal 31, 33 (1980) at 31.

[7] Paul R.A and Alan B, A PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF DIVORCE AND PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS, Journal of Marriage and the Family58 (May 1996), 356-365.

[8] Morin A, “The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children” (Very well FamilyMarch 25, 2019) <https://www.verywellfamily.com/psychological-effects-of-divorce-on-kids-4140170> accessed May 9, 2019.

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